In addition to action and share extensions, document providers, custom keyboards, and Today widgets, iOS 8 is bringing support for photo editing extensions. I didn’t have a chance to test this type of extensions over the summer due to a lack of compatible betas, but I’ve been using updated versions of Camera+ and Fragment for the past couple of days and I thought they deserved a mention.
Photo editing extensions bring the full capabilities of a photo editing app to Apple’s native Photos app. Like other extensions, they need to be manually activated in a specific extension point – in this case, by tapping Edit in a photo and then the “More” button in the upper left corner. This button will show an empty share sheet at first, but tap another More button and you’ll get a list of available Photo Editors. It’s a little cumbersome, but once you’ve activated compatible apps you’ll see their icons in the share sheet.
A photo editing extension can let you edit a photo using features from a third-party app without creating a duplicate file and without taking you into that app. Photo editing extensions run inside the Photos app and they can show a custom interface from the host app; the changes that an extension applies to a photo are non-destructive and you can reverse them at any time.
Camera+ 6.0 adds major new features aimed at professional photographers. I don’t understand most of these, but I recommend Jack Hollingsworth’s excellent overview.
The Camera+ extension brings the app’s editing suite to Apple’s Photos app, and it’s incredibly powerful.
Everything you know about Camera+’s editing tools is in the extension. There’s The Lab with Clarity Pro, a Crop section, Filters, Frames, and shortcuts to turn photos into iPhone wallpapers. The full set of editing tools available in the app has been brought to the extension, which can save edits over the original photo directly in Apple’s Photos app.
Camera+ 6.0 will launch later this month.
Developed by Pixite, Fragment lets you apply prismatic effects to photos. Its photo editing extension lets you play around with fragments of photos and other effects inside Apple’s Photos app.
There are a lot of settings and sliders – I’m new to Fragment, and I’m still having fun discovering all the possible combinations and touch interactions allowed by the app. The photo editing extension works as expected, and thankfully it has a Reset button to erase all changes if you think you’ve messed up.
Fragment is available on the App Store.
In my limited tests with only two apps, I got a sense that photo editing extensions are going to save me several minutes I used to spend moving photos around, checking and deleting duplicates, and cleaning up my Camera Roll. Because extensions are loaded from third-party apps, I retain the feature set of an app I’m already familiar with (such as Camera+) but I don’t have to cope with the Open In menu, selecting and trashing duplicates, and jumping between apps anymore.
Like other extensions, there are some bugs with the current system, and I hope that Apple will fix them soon. Overall, though, I’m impressed by the convenience of photo editing extensions and I can’t wait to try more.